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Bison Jazz Orchestra to Perform at Ritz Theater April 26

April 22, 2013

This year's concert will once again serve as a fundraiser for the theater. Tickets will be sold at the door and will be $3 per person.

The Ritz Theater, built around 1899 and originally constructed as a dry goods store, was the oldest and longest-running family-owned/operated movie theater in the state of Oklahoma when it closed in 1988. In recent years, the Society for Revitalization of Downtown Shawnee has opened the theatre for use as a performance venue.

This year's Bison Jazz Orchestra concert will showcase a wide selection of big band music ranging from swing to modern pieces written by Pat Metheny, an arrangement of a piece by Radiohead, as well as an orchestral jazz work by composer Maria Schneider.

The evening will feature student vocalist Karlie Clifford, a senior from Oklahoma City, on a number of songs. Senior tenor saxophonist Spencer Davis, from Pine Bluff, Ark., will be featured on a number of tunes throughout the evening including Pat Metheny's beautiful ballad "Too Soon Tomorrow" and Bill Holman's roaring "Malaga."

Baritone saxophonist Tabitha Gordon, a senior from Burleson, Texas, will be featured on Bill Holman's original "Bary Me Not." Gordon also will conduct a number with the ensemble.

The evening also will showcase soloists Matthew Smith, a sophomore from Shawnee, Okla.; Sadie Elliott, a sophomore from Oklahoma City; Lucas Adams, a freshman from Oklahoma City; and Mark Soulsby, a senior from Burley, Idaho.

During the concert, the BJO Outstanding Jazz Musician Award will be given to the orchestra member who has "rendered the most outstanding service to the organization during the year." The award, voted on by the members of the ensemble, is the highest honor given to a jazz musician on the OBU campus.

The Bison Jazz Orchestra, an auditioned 21-piece jazz ensemble, is the premiere jazz ensemble of the Warren M. Angell College of Fine Arts Division of Music at OBU. Under Pruiett's direction, the Bison Jazz Orchestra performs a wide variety of big band repertoire ranging from music of the swing band era to contemporary big band works.

The ensemble performs regularly across the OBU campus and throughout the Shawnee community. Most notably, the BJO is the featured ensemble of the "Night of Jazz" concert series, a production in association with the University Concert Series. In May 2008, the BJO traveled to Vitoria and São Paulo, Brazil, for a nine-day tour, and in May of 2010 traveled to João Pessoa and Natal, Brazil, for a 10-day tour.

The OBU Division of Music offers degrees in performance, musical arts, music education, and a liberal arts degree with emphasis in music. For more information, contact the Division of Music at (405) 585-4301 or via e-mail to